Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Charles S. Robertson Estate Interiors

The accompanying interiors to yesterday's post on the Charles S. Robertson estate designed by Mott Schmidt c. 1938 in Lloyd Harbor. Click HERE for more on the Charles S. Robertson estate.





Pictures from the Library of Congress.

14 comments:

Turner Pack Rats said...

i know this blog is too high tone to use the word boring so i'll say pedestrian instead. better for inducing sleep than Sominex. i guess he didn't have as much money as i thought. and that better be peccary cypress (DED can insert one of his arcane architectural words here that i always have to look up)or some exotic wood in the library and not knotty pine. oh, betty crocker, save me. i thought we had all the knotty pine reserved for little lake cabins up here in Maine.
i did note one outside detail i hadn't noticed yesterday tho and thats the little palladian window with the two narrow windows flanking it in the end wall chimney. pretty neat!!

security word def - "difryiete" - kitchen appliance used to cook potatos at MacDonalds in Italy

An Aesthete's Lament said...

Boring rooms ... that being said, however, they are so bland that one could make incredible decors in them. The library particularly inspires me.

magnus said...

It does smack of a dull WASP decorating sensibility taken to an extreme- but it also has a very unfinished looke to me- no paintings where paintings were clearly meant to be hung (or, in the drawing room- a way too small family portrait nailed up above the mantel)and a strange absence of the clutter so dearly beloved by rich WASP's everyhwhere. Could these photos have been taken before the house was totally finished and lived in? It looks like it to me.

Zach said...

I should have added that the pictures are dated 1939 in the LoC.

Reggie Darling said...

I agree with Magnus. It appears to me that these pictures were taken before the rooms were completely finished. The walls are too obviously lacking art or paintings, which, I have learned, is often the final (an often most expensive) hurdle when decorating a new house or apartment.

And, uh, I actually like WASP decorating like this. It's so familiar. All this house needs is more stuff, and art, and I'd consider it to be in "move in" condition. Reggie

The Down East Dilettante said...

And there you have it, my point from yesterday made again. These interiors are safe, dull, comfortable. The rooms are elegant and well proportioned, nicely detailed, but completely within the box---nothing to rock the safe WASP boat. As Reggie says,familiar. But give me the surprise twist of a Delano & Aldrich, or Harrie Lindbergh, thank you very much...

The Ancient said...

nothing to rock the safe WASP boat

Including twin beds in what looks to be the master bedroom.

(I do sometimes wonder how our forebears managed to reproduce. Or more accurately, where.)

An Aesthete's Lament said...

Very often those twin beds were pushed together for connubial explorations, I have heard, while the couple typically maintained separate bedrooms. But the bedroom shown must be for the lady of the house; the decor acknowledges no male presence of any kind. Charles Sammis Robertson, married his first wife, the former Marie Hartford Hoffman, in 1936, not long after her divorce from Louis F Reed Jr. She was a granddaughter of A&P founder George Huntington Hartford.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I'm with Reggie Darling on this one. I feel that Schmidt's houses are always elegantly restrained. And although he did tend to stick to some slight variation of the Georgian Revival style, I don't think it's quite fair to say he used the same safe, inside-the-box design over and over again. No more than his contemporaries did anyway. Mott Scmidt's clients wanted smaller and more streamlined homes, and they wanted more references to early America rather than allusions to the imposing European antecedents on which their parents' ostentatious homes (at Newport, et cetera) had been based. Yes, Schmidt gave them what they wanted, and maybe that's playing it safe, but when one does a side by side comparison of the Dillon House, the Peyton House, the Obolensky House, Schmidt's own "Pook's Hill" et al, it becomes clear that the architect was not in fact reproducing the same design over and over and over again. His exteriors, despite their tendency to draw on the same basic Georgian model, were quite varied and interesting, and his floor plans were often very clever with regard to room arrangements.

Plus, let's face it, Delano & Aldrich were not exactly big risk-takers either. They didn't really make a habit of "rocking the boat" while designing the homes of their rich, WASPY clients. To me, the main difference is that Shmidt always made a great effort to restrain himself and remain historically accurate in his details, while D&A remained a bit more old school. I mean, their houses were generally much grander and much more liberty was taken with the implementation/reproduction of historical elements.

I'm not saying D&A didn't produce unique and beautiful houses, mind you. They absolutely did. In fact, I'd kill for the chance to live in any one of them. But, architecturally speaking, I still prefer the simpler, more refined houses that Mott B. Shmidt produced. They're neither dull nor boring to me.

But to each his own obviously!

Anonymous said...

The only thing that I find makes this home look bland is its lack of chandelier lighting,(and also it's lack of art work on the walls.) And I'd take Knotty Pine over sheet-rock or plywood any day.

The Ancient said...

Zach --

Offhand, what do you think: Do more Delano & Aldrich or Mott Schmidt houses survive (as a percent of their total production)?

AL --

So with beds it's even worse than changing light bulbs*? It takes six -- including four to move the beds without scratching the floors? (No wonder we're so thin on the ground.)

_______
*Canonically, three -- one to call the electrician, one to make the martinis, and one ....

Zach said...

Very good question, both seem to have rather good track records. In fact, besides for 'Mulberry Corner', the Lydig Hoyt residence that D&A enlarged, every other private residence of theirs featured on here is still standing. The same is true for Schmidt, but then again I only have two of his featured so far.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Anonymous: Not to beat a dead horse, but I did point out that I find Schmidt's houses elegant and restrained. They're lovely buildings, and they struck just the right chord for many in the new post Depression, pre-War paradigm, And he indeed designed many, like the Oblensky house that reached further. But, nevertheless, half his country house output was, indeed a variation on this Virginia/Maryland inspired five part brick with fanlight composition. And if you put that body, including the Dillon House, side by side, the similarities are greater than the differences. It's all beautiful, and it's all elegant, it's all beautifully executed, but it is also safe and correct, for those who value safety and correctness.

I certainly wouldn't turn down a Schmidt house, though it's not likely to be an option, but I still find the chances and twists that D&A took to be more interesting.

Anonymous said...

No problem, D.E.D. I like beating dead horses. Live horses will sometimes fight back.

I hear what you're saying and you made a number of very good points. I still don't quite understand, though, how anyone could look at the Peyton House, Marienruh, the Dillon House, Pook's Hill, etc. an come to the conclusion that Schmidt was recycling the same basic plan over and over again. I feel like even though he tended to cling to the whole Georgian colonial thing, Schmidt tried hard (and IMO succeeded) to make each commission different from the others. I myself don't see repetitiveness in his work - at least not any more than I see repetitiveness in the works of his contemporaries - but of course I wouldn't expect everyone else to be as big a Mott Schmidt fan as I am. Once again, to each his own.